When an employer engages in widespread practices that are meant to harm or intimidate employees because of their race, gender, or other protected characteristics, they can be sued for large amounts of money. The government will get involved in these situations as well to make sure employers are in compliance with all relevant labor laws and standards.
An insurance company that had locations in Denver and Nashville was ordered to pay out approximately $20 million dollars due to discrimination claims.
Discrimination and retalation claims result in large losses for Denver insurance company
The formal complaint was made by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the company called Jackson National Life Insurance. The main point of the complaint was that black and female employees were given less compensation than other similarly situated workers, and they were overlooked for promotions and other benefits. There were other related claims included in the complaint due to a hostile work environment that included racial slurs, sexual harassment, and inappropriate cartoons that portrayed certain employees as lazy. The total amount that will be given out to satisfy various claims is $20.5 million. About $5 million of that amount is for legal and attorney’s fees, with the rest going to 21 different claimants. Jackson National Life is also being ordered by the government to sustain costs of retraining and education programs that cover discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment.
An attorney who works for the EEOC said that they wanted to send a clear message to employers in insurance and finance that discrimination against women, people of color, or any other group with not be tolerated in these industries. A spokesman from the insurance company responded by saying that they felt they needed to settle the lawsuits to be able to move forward. The EEOC office that handles the Denver and Phoenix metro areas said that this is their largest value case ever.
The formal statement released by Jackson National Life further said that the company was “humbled” and that they plan on treating all employees in a manner that is more consistent with the company’s core values in the future. They also said that the case should serve as a wakeup call to many people within the organization who should strive to do better.
The plaintiffs represented in the lawsuit include thirteen black employees and seven white women. Two black women who were a part of the lawsuit had consistently been considered some of the company’s top employees until they were transferred to the Denver office. A man of Ethiopian descent was also harassed due to his ethnic and racial background. A former vice president of the company joined the case with a retaliation claim related to when he was fired for refusing to create negative evaluations after two black employees had made discrimination claims. All of these people signed a consent decree, which allows them to jointly agree to the terms of the settlement.
Jackson National Life Insurance is owned by Prudential PLC, a company that operates out of the United Kingdom. Their head U.S. office is in Lansing, Michigan. Jackson National has thousands of American employees and they hold over $200 billion in domestic assets.
Why were the amounts tied to this case so large?
Keep in mind that any individual plaintiff is only going to receive a portion of this multi-million dollar settlement. However, when a large group of employees is affected by discrimination, they can each make a claim that they employer needs to settle or take to trial. The fact that over twenty people were represented in this case means that the settlement was a sum of all of their damages. If the lawsuits had been separated, any individual case would have likely been settled for a much smaller amount.
How can discrimination be proven in a court of law?
Employees can go through a process where they file a complaint with the local EEOC and contact their own attorney. The EEOC usually does an independent investigation to see if they can sustain any allegations of illegal behavior, based on any information that they can find. If an employee has access to documents such as emails, performance evaluations, or any notes from the workplace that demonstrate discriminatory intent, these should be shared with the commission and an employment lawyer. Attorneys who focus on this area of the law will take the next steps and advise you regarding how the case will proceed.
Get help if your employer may be doing something illegal
If you live in the Denver area and you have been subjected to discrimination, not paid proper wages, or had any other workplace issues, it is recommended to speak to a local employment lawyer. Anderson Barkley Attorneys at Law are available to speak with you about these issues and possible legal action.